Believe it or not, as I have been writing over the course of the last year and warning potential buyers: OUR REAL ESTATE MARKET WAS CHANGING. NOW, the 'TIPPING POINT" is in the past. In December of 2011, I predicted a rise in home prices of 20-30%. After reading the latest NEWS from Michael Orr and the Cromford Report, I am confident 2012 will end with +30% appreciaation.
Market Summary for May 2012
The Phoenix real estate market is absolutely not fun for buyers at this time. Buyers are being out bid. Homes are selling for over list price and to cash buyers from $100k - $450k properties. Why? Well, supply is down dramatically to only 12,649 active listings from 23,475 one year prior which is causing prices to rise, yet the amount of homes sold to slow with 8,262 homes sold last month down from 10,054 last year. Strange, right? No, not really. There are simply not enough homes for sale to increase sales volume so prices have to rise due to simple supply and demand. Likewise, if you analyze the owners of homes in the Phoenix area, most are underwater causing the extreme lack of homes for sale because many of these homeowners are waiting for the market to appreciate not wanting to short sale or foreclose, which it has and is, or are they are working through loan mods or simply are comfortable where they live not wanting to rent. Arizona is 35th in the States for first home loans that are delinquent(yes, applause here). Arizona is no longer leading the Nation in a housing slump. Arizona is leading the Nation in the housing recovery with average price per square foot up 17.8% over the past 3 months, which is an annualized rate of 71.2%. 71.2%!!!! ARE YOU SERIOUS? DID YOU READ THAT?? Have you heard about a ‘slow recovery’? I do not consider a 17% increase in price per square foot of sold listings a ‘slow recovery’. With that said, the monthly median sales price for all listings hit $145,000 on May 26th, 2012. This is extremely significant because it is 33% higher than one year prior. To add fuel to the fire, new listings that were activated in May were at the lowest level since 2000. So, where is inventory going to come from? There is NO SHADOW INVENTORY in Phoenix. SO PLEASE, do not bring that up as I do not need to revisit and beat a dead horse. New inventory can only come from NEW HOMES and that will take some time to get ramped up considering building permits were up 75% at only 1,253 from year prior yet still lag 1996 standards by 58% which were 3,032.
Market Summary for the Beginning of April
In 2011 we experienced a relatively stable and predictable market with very little price movement. In 2012 we have a market in which dramatic change is not only to be expected, but is already happening. Prices have moved in the single month of March 2012 more than they did in the whole of 2011. In these circumstances it is very difficult to appraise homes accurately, and in many cases appraisals are coming well below current market pricing. Normally this would act as a brake on price movement, but as so much of our market is cash-based, with the buyer waiving the appraisal contingency, the braking effect is less than normal.
Let us look at some basic numbers for March 2012 relative to March 2011. So for all areas & types we record the following:
Active Listings (excluding AWC): 14,175 versus 30,230 last year - down 53%
Active Listings (including AWC): 21,841 versus 37,246 last year - down 41%
Pending Listings: 11,964 versus 12,923 - down 7.4%
Monthly Sales: 8,782 versus 9,952 - down 11.8%
Monthly Average Sales Price per Sq. Ft.: $93.06 versus $82.13 - up 13.3%
Monthly Median Sales Price: $129,900 versus $110,000 - up 18.1%
So we can conclude that supply is down dramatically year over year, while pricing is clearly well up over last year at this time. It is no longer possible to measure demand freely since it is now heavily constrained by the lack of supply. Sales volumes are nearly 12% down on last year, so this suggests at first sight that demand has fallen. However we know that sales numbers would be much higher if more homes were available. That is why multiple bids have become the norm for most properties under $450,000 and this supply shortage means the upward pricing pressure is continuing.
(Michael Orr, the Cromford Report)
Market Summary for the Beginning of March 2012
The supply of homes for sale is now unusually low below $400,000 and it is clear that pricing can no longer be held down by negative sentiment. Consequently prices are rising at an accelerating rate and unlikely to stop rising until a significant additional supply can be found from somewhere. Where this will come from is not yet clear. The developers can only build a relatively low number of new homes in the near term, constrained as they are by the scarcity of experienced construction employees. The banks are receiving only a fraction of foreclosed homes from the trustees, and REO listings are being added to ARMLS at the slowest rate for almost 5 years. More than three quarters of short sale listings are already under contract, leaving only a couple of thousand of short sale listings unspoken for. Bidding at the trustee sales by third parties is intense except for those where the lender opens the bidding at the outstanding loan amount, obviously not interested in selling until they have taken possession. During March we expect 2 out of 3 trustee sales to go to third parties. Prices at the trustee sales are rising fast and many long term professionals are getting outbid by newcomers.
Normal listings are still relatively plentiful, but are being added to ARMLS at much lower rates than usual, so are not even close to making up for the low supply from elsewhere. The only potentially significant new source is if the banks have been holding back sending foreclosure notices to a large number of delinquent homeowners. If this is the case, then the market is telling these lenders: "now would be a good time". There is no shortage of demand to absorb them. Some lenders, notably Wells Fargo, Bank of New York Mellon, US Bank and Green Tree Servicing were indeed stepping up their foreclosure notices in February, but the overall rate of new notices is still considerably lower than in 2011 and unless many other lenders follow suit we cannot expect a significant increase in REOs coming to market. Most likely, any increase in foreclosure notices will result in an increase in short sale supply and third party purchases at auction.
You can see the extremely low new listing rates by looking at this new chart where you can also break the numbers down by geography and this one where you can break them down by price range. January had the lowest number (9,908) of new Greater Phoenix listings we have seen for any January since we started counting in 2001. Even 2005 had 10,415 and in those days new builds and FSBOs were numerous but rarely listed on ARMLS.
February had the lowest number (8,695) of new Greater Phoenix listings we have seen for any Feb-ruary since we started counting in 2001. 2005 had 9,282.
March is not looking any better so far from a buyer's perspective. So we conclude that constrained supply is going to be a severe problem throughout the near to medium term.
We currently count 7,259 sales in February across all areas & types in ARMLS. This is up 1.4% from Feb-ruary 2011 and the second highest February total in the last 12 years. Nothing weak about demand there. Pending listings number 11,782 and are slightly lower than last year, but they are a much higher percent-age of the available supply. The contract ratio is 120.24, a very high reading that compares with 56.1 in March 2011. Given the time of year, the contract ratio is likely to rise to even higher levels, suggesting a very tough time for buyers.
Average sales pricing has moved from $85.15 per sq ft in January to $87.52 in February, a rise of 2.8%(IN ONE MONTH!). Since pending listing pricing has moved from $83.82 to $88.14 over the same period, a rise of 5.2%(IN ONE MONTH!), we expect sales prices to rise even faster during March.
Today the monthly median sales price is $123,525, 13% higher than this time last year when it was $109,000.
Average asking prices for active listings have increased from $129.80 per sq ft on March 1, 2011 to $152.41 on March 1, 2012, an increase of 17.4%. This is exaggerated by the scarcity of low end homes and the relative abundance of luxury homes.
The 55+ areas and luxury market are still much quieter than the rest of the market. However the strong tide of price recovery is starting to rise from the bottom of the market. (Michael Orr, the Cromford Report)
The Phoenix Real Estate Market Update April 2012
The Cromford Report this week released this data breaking out activity by price point:
• this is a market that is extremely weighted in favor of sellers as supply is down 63% from last year
• the severe lack of inventory has pushed pending listings 17% below last year and the monthly sales rate is 27% below last year
• $/SF sales pricing is up 10.7% from last year and up 2.7% in the last month
• Sales pricing is highest since August 2010
Between $100,000 and $200,000
• this is a market that is extremely weighted in favor of sellers as supply is down 44% from last year
• the severe lack of inventory has pushed pending listings 7% below last year and monthly sales rate is 1% above last year
• $/SF sales pricing is up 4.1% from last year and up 2.3% in the last quarter
• sales pricing is highest since June 2010
Between $200,000 and $400,000
• this is a market that is weighted in favor of sellers as supply is down 25% from last year
• pending listings are 20% above last year
• monthly sales rate is 7% above last year
• $/SF sales pricing is up 2.3% from last year, but flat over the last quarter
Between $400,000 and $800,000
• this is a market that is in balance even though supply is down 14% from last year
• pending listings are 3% above last year
• monthly sales rate is 8% below last year
• $/SF sales pricing is up 5.3% from last year and 3.4% in the last month
• sales pricing is surprisingly strong, and at its highest since June 2009
• this is a market that is weighted in favor of buyers with supply down 17% from last year
• pending listings 1% below last year
• monthly sales rate is 21% below last year
• $/SF sales pricing is down 8.4% from last year
• sales pricing is still on a slight weakening trend
Be Careful What You Wish For?
The downward trend in active listings suggests we are heading for an unusual shortage of affordable homes for sale. Compared with one year ago, the number of REO listings is down 76%, the number of short sale listings is down 81% and the number of equity or normal listings is down 26%! Could that mean we’ve had too much of a good thing? Hopefully not… only time will tell. So I guess you can’t have everything. 
There are 12,459 active single family detached listings this week which is down 784 from two weeks ago. There are 16,037 total residential listings currently active in the MLS which includes condos, patio homes, townhomes and lofts. We are down 255 from two weeks ago.
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